When the season began in April, the Yankees’ main focus was to stay afloat until the stars came back.
They’ve done more than just tread water.
On May 29th, they stand one game out of first place behind the Boston Red Sox, with two sluggers on the verge of returning.
Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis both played in a rehab game Wednesday for Double-A Trenton, obtaining similar results over seven innings, three plate appearances: 0-for-2 with a walk. Although their batting lines are largely unimpressive, they are unimportant at the moment. What is important is that these two guys are feeling healthy and ready to contribute.
“We’ve been ready for a while,” Teixeira said – who has been troubled by a wrist injury since early in spring training. Since wrist injuries can be detrimental to hitters, the Yankees have been very careful with Teixeira, choosing not to rush him back which could reaggrivate the injury. “It feels great,” he said, regarding the wrist. “It’s been feeling great for weeks, and I’m just excited about playing again.”
Youkilis said that his back is feeling like it did at the beginning of the season, and that if he does the exercises he’s supposed to do, he should be good moving forward. “I’ve got a maintenance program that I do everyday. That’s going to help me in the long-run,” he said.
The plan for both players is to play in one more rehab game tomorrow before being activated in time for Friday night’s contest against the Red Sox. These rehab games aren’t about compiling stats – they’re about getting back into the flow of the game and real-game situations. “It’s all about health, seeing pitches, trying to see as many pitches as you can in your at-bats,” Teixeira said. “I think we both did that.”
As for Youkilis, these games are about getting back into a routine. In extended spring training, they played five innings and hit in every inning to get as many reps as possible. “It’s cool here to get to sit down, relax, and get the actual atmosphere of a ballgame to see what happens in front of you,” said Youkilis. “We were hitting every inning [in spring training]. It didn’t feel like a baseball game.”
Brian Cashman also sat down with reporters to discuss the current state of the Yankees. With a makeshift lineup sitting near the top of the AL East, Cashman commented on the effort that’s been given so far. “We’re looking forward to getting the A-team back, we appreciate what the B-team has done – the B-Bombers. It takes more than 25 [players].”
Since Teixeira will go right back to playing first base, the team will have a difficult decision to make with Lyle Overbay – the 36-year-old veteran who has done an admirable job filling in. “We’ll make this up as we go along… one step at a time. Lets get these guys back first and foremost, then we’ll figure out our roster moves when we have to.”
With an offense that’s been struggling to score runs recently, adding guys like Teixeira and Youkilis should help bolster the heart of the order.
Cashman also gave updates on the following players:
Francisco Cervelli: Has been doing hand therapy, working with physical therapist.
Michael Pineda: Yesterday was supposed to be his final outing before beginning a rehab assignment. While cutting his nails prior to the game, he cracked one and was bleeding. As a result, he only pitched three innings at 45 pitches, cutting the session short as a precaution. The Yankees will hold off on his final extended spring training appearance for a few days before they send him to pitch in minor league games.
Audio of the press conferences are below, courtesy of our own Dan Pfeiffer: